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James shows a turn of pace on grassy runs to reclaim combined crown

PUBLISHED: 16:18 05 December 2017 | UPDATED: 16:18 05 December 2017

The Senior Men climb away from the lake – including Dougal Toms (far right) and Seb Herrod (Strada top) at the Regional Championships at Welwyn. Picture: Fergus Muir

The Senior Men climb away from the lake – including Dougal Toms (far right) and Seb Herrod (Strada top) at the Regional Championships at Welwyn. Picture: Fergus Muir

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A happy Stephen James won the combined Eastern and South Eastern Regional Cyclo-Cross Championship at Welwyn, regaining the title he first took in 2014 in Kent.

Richard Muchmore (Renvale RT) – Vets 50+ winner at the Regional Championships at Welwyn. Picture: Fergus Muir: Richard Muchmore (Renvale RT) – Vets 50+ winner at the Regional Championships at Welwyn. Picture: Fergus Muir:

James initially broke away with Alec Briggs and Michael Butler (Hargroves Cycles), going clear after about 25 minutes.

The north Suffolk rider said that the course, with its long fast runs over grass, suited him well, and felt he had benefited by not trying this year to fit in a National Trophy challenge as well.

Behind the top three was a chase group including Dougal Toms – who was eventually fourth – and Norfolk-raised Jonathan Dennis (sixth), while Beccles rider Seb Herrod maintained his speed to the end to take eighth spot.

The circuit was high above the sailing lake at Stanborough Park – the whole landscape created by gravel extraction for the construction of the A1(M) motorway.

A joyful Junior Women’s podium at the Regional Championship. From left, Lauren Higham (second), winner Elspeth Grace and Celia Hime.Picture: Fergus Muir A joyful Junior Women’s podium at the Regional Championship. From left, Lauren Higham (second), winner Elspeth Grace and Celia Hime.Picture: Fergus Muir

There was a pair of high hurdles, craftily set on the uphill approach to the main zig-zags. The reverse camber turns on these slopes were expected to be a big challenge, but the surface proved to have plenty of grip, and most competitors had little trouble, leaving straight-out power the deciding factor.

Renvale had further cause for celebration with their member Richard Muchmore winning the Vets 50-plus race.

With Jimmy Piper laid low by a heavy cold, Muchmore made a rare – for him – early attack. He explained he was glad to be able to choose his own racing line on surfaces that proved unusually variable.

In the same race, Seb Herrod’s dad Nigel won the third prize in the Vets 60- plus category.

King’s Lynn CC’s Florence Barnett was second to Carys Lloyd (Lea Valley Youth) in the Under 12s, while top Norfolk finishers in the Youth event were Iceni Velo pair Joseph Smith and Callum Laborde.

Veteran time trialists gathered at the Ipswich Holiday Inn for their annual prize presentation where Thetford rider Dave Green received several trophies, including the Group Best All-Rounder. Special mention must be made of retiring Record Secretaries Tony and Sue Clarke, who were awarded the Gordon Irons Trophy for Service to the East Anglian Group.

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